Erica Van Steenis is an outdoor enthusiast who has been guiding backpacking trips for over 10 years, and currently works for Adventure Treks. She loves hiking, skiing, mountain biking, and the high alpine. She is earning her PhD in Education on the side at CU Boulder.
As someone who spends most of her summer as a backpacking guide, I was stoked when Outdoor Prolink contacted me to try out the Mountainsmith Apex 60 liter women’s pack. For years, I have stayed true to my Gregory Deva 70 liter pack, but I was happy to try out something lighter and smaller, yet still roomy.
After the late April snow melted and before the May rains came, I set out on a backcountry jaunt with two of my good friends. We spent the day exploring, hiking, and camping in the mountains just outside of Boulder.
The Mountainsmith Apex 60 did not disappoint. As a 5’9 and 160lb woman, the medium size pack fit well. In fact, it required little adjusting on my part for it to feel snug on my hips and light on my shoulders (every backpacker’s dream). The adjustment features on this pack are straightforward with a Velcro system to adjust the torso length and adjustable straps to tighten or loosen the shoulder and waist straps.
One of the most important things to me as an avid backpacker is that my pack holds weight well and feels balanced. I packed the backpack to the brim and fortunately the Apex exceeded my expectations in the arena of weight distribution and balance. This backpack is incredibly easy to pack. While it lacks some of the side pockets and bells and whistles of other backpacks like it, the brain of the pack has more room than any other backpack, I have ever used (yay!). I love this feature. Additionally, the front entry zippers make it easy to access items in my pack and the large pocket in the front is perfect for holding layers or items that I want to leave easily accessible. The waist pocket is also big enough to fit a camera or cell phone.
In terms of comfort, I was incredibly impressed. The shoulder and waist straps have a layer of padding that is thick and comfortable, but also ventilated. My one qualm with this pack is the water bottle holders. One of them is tipped in such a way that your water bottle can be accessed easily while hiking. While I love the intention of this feature, my water bottle kept falling out of my pack every time I bent over. There seems to be a strap that can go around the bottle to hold it in place, but it is not elastic and difficult to get on and off, which in my opinion defeats the purpose.
- The Front Pocket
- True to Size
- The side water bottle holder
All things considered, I can live with the water bottle holder as the one downside to this pack. I plan to use it all summer and would recommend it to anyone looking for a sturdy and comfortable new pack.